LPGA says there was no rules infraction for Amy Olson or Ariya Jutanugarn after incident on the 18th green in Thailand
Friday's "backstopping" incident between Amy Olson and Ariya Jutanugarn at the Honda LPGA Thailand has reached a conclusion—as far as any ruling from the LPGA is concerned. Neither player will receive a penalty.
Olson and Jutanugarn were playing the 18th hole during the second round at Siam Country Club, Jutanugarn's ball on the green while Olson's was right of the hole. Jutanugarn, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, did not mark her ball, which Olson proceeded to hit with her chip shot. Jutanguarn's ball kept Olson's from running well past the hole, Olson's ball instead coming to rest a few feet from the cup. Jutanugarn was allowed to replace her ball at its original spot.
The issue gained attention when Olson and Jutanugarn gave each other a fist-bump on the green, which caused some to question whether leaving the ball unmarked in order to potentially help Olson was an intentional move by the players. If it were, it would be a breach of Rule 15.3a.
LPGA officials on Saturday, however, released a statement that said they were satisfied that no action needed to be taken. The statement reads:
"After speaking with Amy Olson and Ariya Jutanugarn, the LPGA Rules Committee determined that there was no breach of Rule 15.3a. There was no agreement by either player to leave Jutanugarn’s ball in place to help Olson’s next stroke. An LPGA Rules Official was approaching the 18th green at the time and agreed that no breach had occurred."
"Rule 15.3a clearly states that for a breach to occur, that two or more players, must agree to leave a ball in place to help any player on her next stroke. This was not the case between Olson and Jutanugarn."
"Olson quickly played strictly to maintain pace of play, with her ball accidentally striking Jutanugarn's ball on the green. Jutanugarn's ball was properly replaced."
Here's the series of tweets that brought into question the potential for a rules infraction:
The issue of backstopping is not unique to the LPGA Tour, Jimmy Walker has spoken out about the issue of backstopping on the PGA Tour. And even though the ruling is finalized and neither player received a penalty in Thailand, this is unlikely to be the end of the backstopping conversation.